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Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem Paperback – January 5, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (January 5, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006092683X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060926830
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #618,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The most urgent domestic challenge facing the United States...is the re-creation of fatherhood as a vital social role for men," says Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values, a private New York City research organization. His compelling presentation of the "culture of fatherlessness" describes more than the physical absence of a father from the family; what is most troubling, he maintains, is the growing belief that fatherhood is an unnecessary function. The author examines various demographics of fatherlessness and presents his recommendations for rediscovering the goal of "a father for every child," cautioning that unless the trend of fatherlessness is reversed, the "decline of child well-being and the spread of male violence" will not be arrested. Although this and others of his conclusions are arguable, Blankenhorn provides much worthy fodder for debate.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Fatherlessness has been a hot-button issue since 1992, when Vice President Dan Quayle lambasted TV's Murphy Brown for "mocking the importance of fathers." This book sets the tone for further debate on the issue. Blankenhorn, chair of the National Fatherhood Initiative and founder/president of the Institute for American Values, criticizes the growth in the number of fatherless families and the development of a culture of fatherlessness. Detailing how the social role of fathers has been diminished and devalued, he theorizes that devalued fatherhood has led to higher incidences of crime, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and child poverty. He then critiques eight predominant father roles in contemporary American society. Blankenhorn calls for a revival of the "good family man," offering 12 proposals to reinvigorate the role of fatherhood. Copius notes append the text. A valuable resource for social planners and the general public.
Michael A. Lutes, Univ. of Notre Dame Lib., Ind.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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In an increasingly fatherless society, the Good Family Man stands for fatherhood" (202).
Kathryn Warner
One of the most incisive examinations of the problem of fatherless families is Fatherless America.
Amazon Customer
There are many other glib conflations of social statistics and other issues in this book.
David Usher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 99 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am aware that you discourage people from commenting on other reviews, but I think that the following comment is needed nevertheless. A previously posted hostile review said "Just where does David Blankenhorn get off telling mothers that they're not good enough for their kids!!!???? It looks as if David here is stuck in a time warp and the people that believe this piece of trash are too. So...almost half of kids grow up with single moms. I think it's swell that women today have more choices than ever before." This reviewer clearly doesn't grasp the message of the book. First, Blankenhorn isn't saying that mothers aren't good enough for their kids. On the contrary, a careful reading of the book reveals that he believes that good mothers are just as necessary as fathers. He is not denigrating mothers. He is simply saying that neither mother nor father possesses the resources to give a child everything that the child needs. Parenting was meant to be a cooperative effort between a team consisting of husband and wife, each of whom brings unique personal qualities (some of which are gender-related) to the endeavor. It's not sexist to argue that this is the case; on the contrary, it is extremely sexist to argue that women are the only parents who are essential to healthy childhood development. As for the argument that those who agree with the author are in a "time warp," this is nothing but an unintelligent ad hominem attack designed to divert attention from the legitimate substance of the book. Just because one is dismayed by the increasing number of fatherless children, and the undeniably negative effects of that phenomenon on society, it does not make one a Luddite who wishes to return to the past.Read more ›
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on February 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
The breakdown of families, especially in terms of the disappearance of marriage and the collapse of fatherhood, has been carefully studied by a number of authors. One of the most incisive examinations of the problem of fatherless families is Fatherless America.

The book is based on a wealth of statistical information, highlighting the dangerous trend of family disintegration in America. Perhaps most disturbing of the information he uncovers is the fact that "tonight, about 40 per cent of American children will go to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live". "Fatherlessness," argues Blankenhorn, "is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation". The primary results of this trend are "a decline in children's well-being and a rise in male violence, especially against women."

The problem is not just that of the absence of fathers, but "the absence of our belief in fathers." Recalling the findings of Margaret Mead and others that the supreme test of any civilisation is whether it can socialise men by teaching them to be fathers, Blankenhorn traces the disappearance of the idea of fatherhood in contemporary culture, and the effects this has on our children and our society

While he acknowledges that the so-called traditional family was not without problems, he sees the move to a fatherless society as a far greater dilemma. As fatherhood becomes devalued, decultured and deinstitutionalised, the problems associated with inner city America will only compound themselves. We now know without question that the overwhelming generator of violence among young men is the fatherless family.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Rocco B. Rubino on July 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
We have no shortage of fathers, in the pro-creative, biological/physiological sense of the word. What is missing in our society is the institution of "fatherhood;" the process whereby the patriarch of the family takes his rightful place in the family as leader, provider, protector, and nurturer.
Feminists will hate this book because Blankenhorn uses scientific study, statistics,logic, and, at times, rhetoric and polemics to conclusively state that the absence of true fathers is indeed the "most urgent social problem of our kind."
Whether unwittingly, or by design, feminists have played a big part in destroying this sacred institution; their call for the "rights" of women did not stop there. There has been a full-scale diminution of fatherhood, to the detriment of all involved, and, ultimately, society.
This jeremiad is a must read for anyone, i.e. parents, teachers, ministers, social-workers, and counselors, who are concerned about the state of our youth today. Blankenship proves that without a father, all is chaos in the family.
A truly dynamic and passionate book. I cannot believe that there has not been any noticeable public acclaim for this book,but then again I should not be surprised given the antipathy with which academia, the media, and the various and sundry other members of the literati, view the "traditional family."
We see how women and children suffer. Where's the outrage?
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn Warner on April 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
Blankenhorn has written a thorough analysis of fatherlessness in our American culture. Not only is it an excellent resource for anyone in the helping profession, including mental health professionals, but also it will help those who are fatherless.
Blankenhorn confronts not so much the absences of fathers as the absence of our belief in fathers (3). As he describes this, "today's expert story of fatherhood largely assumes that fatherhood is superfluous. More precisely, our elite culture has now fully incorporated into its prevailing family narrative the idea that fatherhood, as a distinctive social role for men, is either unnecessary or undesirable. An essential claim of the script is that there are not-and ought not to be-any key parental tasks that belong essentially and primarily to fathers" (67).
Blankenhorn uses the format of a screenplay with eight characters in the script. The leading characters are the Unnecessary Father, the Old Father, and the New Father. The remaining five minor roles are termed as the fatherhood understudies or almost-fathers. They include the Deadbeat Dad, the Visiting Father, the Sperm Father, the Stepfather and the Nearby Guy. Although the first three are biological fathers, they do not live with their children. The latter two are not biological, so they exemplify the contemporary dispersal of fatherhood: the growing detachment of social from biological paternity" (68). In the last scene Blankenhorn introduces the Good Family Man.
Blankenhorn's Unnecessary Father is not needed inspires condescension, a is easily dismissed and forgotten (84). Old Father is destructive, overbearing man whereas the New Father is a good, nurturing man expressing his emotions and deeply involved as a parent (96).
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